I’ve just realised that I haven’t shared any photos of Small tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae) this year – how very remiss of me!
My excuse is that I’ve hardly seen any and, now that I’ve checked my photos, I’ve also realised that I’ve only seen them on three occasions this summer, the first on 21 August and the most recent on the 27th (though on that last date, at Aberthaw, when I was out with my bird group, a total of fifteen were seen).
It’s still a worry though, as the population of Small tortoiseshells has plummeted in recent years, down 73% since the 1970s according to the Butterfly Conservation website. Speculation about the reasons for such a severe decline vary from pollution and climate change to predation by the grubs of a parasitic fly that’s popped over from Europe and made itself at home, especially in southern Britain. I hope my few sightings this year are not the norm but somehow I doubt it.